Hydraulic fracturing by country
Hydraulic fracturing has become a contentious environmental and health issue with Tunisia and France banning the practice and a moratorium in place in Quebec (Canada), and some of the states of the US.
Up until the mid-2000s, hydraulic fracturing was generally limited to conventional oil and gas wells in the Cooper Basin. This was limited to one, two or sometimes zero ongoing fracturing operations. The vast majority of coal seam gas wells have not been hydraulically fractured as the wells presently being drilled are in coal seams that have good natural permeability. The NSW Government has banned BTEX chemicals as additives.
A number of protests occurred in Bulgaria after the government's decision to grant an approval for Chevron Corporation to research the possibilities of shale gas extraction in the country's northeast in 2011. After a nationwide protest in January 2012, the government decided to ban the hydraulic fracturing technology.
A December 2012 article in Foreign Affairs suggested that Russia, to preserve the high price it receives for gas exports, has financed environmental groups in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic to oppose hydraulic fracturing; arguing that there aren't normally large protests in those countries.
Fracking has been in common use by the petroleum industry in Canada since at least the mid-1960s. Massive hydraulic fracturing has been widely used in Alberta since the late 1970s to recover gas from low-permeability sandstones of the Spirit River Formation.
Concerns about fracking began in late July 2011, when the Government of British Columbia gave Talisman Energy a long-term water licence to draw water from the BC Hydro-owned Williston Lake reservoir, for a twenty-year term. Fracking has also received criticism in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, and the Nova Scotia government is currently reviewing the practice, with recommendations expected in March 2012. The practice has been temporarily suspended in parts of Quebec, pending an environmental review. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives has also expressed concern.
China completed its first horizontal shale gas well in 2011. A global shale gas study by the US Energy Information Administration said China's technically recoverable shale gas reserves were almost 50% higher than those of the number two nation, the United States.
In 2012, the first research for shale gas has begun in Denmark, where Total E&P Denmark B.V., a subsidiary of Total S.A., has been granted two exploration licenses in collaboration with the Danish State's oil- and gas company, Nordsøfonden. The exploration license, which runs until 2016, covers the two areas Nordjylland and Nordsjælland, where the geological characteristics are expected to provide the best potential for shale gas.
Danish national media have so far covered both pros and cons of shale gas production and fracking, and a minor NGO has been formed to protest against shale gas. The acknowledged green think tank Concito has produced a report that states, that it will be both practically and technically feasible to establish shale gas production in Denmark without having to fear of contamination of drinking water or the release of methane from wells.
Hydraulic fracturing was banned in France in 2011 after public pressure. The ban was upheld by an October 2013 ruling of the Constitutional Council following complaints by US-based Schuepbach Energy.
Massive hydraulic fracturing treatments have been done in German tight sandstone gas wells since 1975. Hydraulic fracturing of tight Rotliegend Sandstone began in Germany in the early 1980s, and is today responsible for most of German natural gas production.
In February 2013, the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel announced draft regulations that would allow hydraulic fracturing to develop shale gas. The policy was said to be motivated by fear that high energy costs were making German industry uncompetitive with respect to nations developing low-cost shale gas; natural gas prices in the US were a quarter of those in Germany in 2012.
Shale gas fracking has so far been banned in Germany and the stance of the potential new government reinforces prospects that unconventional gas exploration will not be pursued in the country. The next election is not due until 2017. According to Der Spiegel, Environment Minister Norbert Rottgen and Economy Minster Philipp Rosler have been sceptical of the process and have decided to oppose it for the time being.
In Northern Ireland, Tamboran Resources has tested sites in County Fermanagh which they claim could supply gas to Northern Ireland for years to come. Tamboran Resources also has a license for gas exploration and plan to proceed hydraulic fracturing in the Lough Allen basin area of County Leitrim, Republic of Ireland. The CEO of Tamboran Resources has declared a “zero-chemical hydraulic fracturing” pledge, but that has been declared as illusionary (https://sites.google.com/site/frackingireland/open-letter-to-the-members-of-the-31st-dail-eireann-hydraulic-shale-gas-fracturing---tamborans-claims---chemicals-involved-in-the-fracking-procedure). The Protest group "No Fracking Ireland" has been set up by locals of counties Leitrim, Roscommon and Sligo and petitions against hydraulic fracturing are still ongoing.
Poland is busy aggressively developing its shale gas reserves, thought to be the largest in Europe, though the latest estimate is significantly lower than that previously provided by the U.S. Department of Energy. A Polish Geological Institute study published in March 2012 concluded that, while fracking at one site had produced toxic waste, the latter was reused and did not harm the environment, though critics said the study was carried out at the start of exploration in Poland and does not reflect dangers from a long-term activity. Large-scale fracking in Poland would relieve some of the EU's dependency on Russian gas, but the East European state is densely populated and has a large agricultural sector, meaning the massive amounts of water required for fracking have raised additional concerns.
On 17 October 2013 people in the Pungesti village protested against hydraulic fracturing done by Chevron. One hundred policemen were sent to stop the protest. The land on which Chevron is trying to build the well belonged to the village council but was acquired by the mayor in a way contested by the villagers. The mayor is presumed to have been paid by Chevron so they can build a well there. On December 6 and 7, 2013 protesters tried to stop MIF S.A. a contractor for Chevron from starting the work at this site and the government brought one thousand strong riot-police force to keep the protesters away. Protesters clashed with the police and there were about 50 arrests made. Many protesters claimed they were abused and injured by the government forces. The county police chief instituted a state of necessity barring citizens to travel in or out of that area, imposed a curfew and interdicted any public assembly.
Hydraulic fracturing has regularly been used to improve the performance of water boreholes. In the case of water boreholes it is often referred to as hydrofracturing. From 1990 to 1992, 170 boreholes had been hydrofractured in South Africa.
This moratorium was lifted on 7 September 2012. The decision was condemned by environmental campaigners, despite the fact that it will bring new jobs to poor and deprived areas of South Africa. One study has shown that the region of the Karoo could hold enough gas to supply South Africa for 400 years. Despite these benefits, activists vehemently opposed the move by the government and made a series of well-publicised protests at the end of September 2012.
Companies are allowed to proceed with the initial stages of exploration, including geological field mapping and other data gathering activities, until such time when an appropriate regulatory framework has been put in place. Actual fracking activities, essential during the later stages of exploration when determining the financial viability of a potential project, would for the time being remain prohibited until a legal framework has been completed. Initial exploration would go a long way towards confirming whether the Karoo indeed held the estimated technically recoverable resource of 485 trillion cubic feet (Tcf) of gas.
Fracking is carried out in the United Kingdom by Cuadrilla Resources, though other companies have exploration licenses. Though not officially suspended, the process was unofficially suspended for nearly a year in the UK from June 2011 over safety concerns, but an expert report in April 2012 concluded the practice was safe, clearing the way for its resumption. Protest groups have emerged since April 2012, with the major nationwide group being Frack Off. As of 2013 the government was optimistic about development of an shale gas industry and was offering favorable tax treatment.
A modification of the fracking technique, called slickwater fracking, was used in Texas in 1998 to drill for natural gas from the Barnett Shale. Shale has cracks, which can collect gas if there are hydrocarbons present in the shale. Fracking is used to create a reservoir in the shale by enlarging the cracks and extending them, and by inserting sand to prop the cracks open. This type of drilling was made possible by a number of advances in directional drilling and microseismic 3-dimensional imaging supported by the Department of Energy and other federal agencies, Drilling into shale now accounts for 30 percent of US gas production.
This method of drilling has become controversial because of the complaints, from some residents of the areas, about pollution and potential health effects.
In May 2012, The state of Vermont outlawed hydraulic fracturing - the first U.S. state to ban the practice.
- Shale gas by country
- List of countries by recoverable shale gas
- Directional drilling
- Environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing
- Environmental impact of petroleum
- Environmental impact of the oil shale industry
- ExxonMobil Electrofrac
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|title=(help) Local bans are in place in five counties of the Republic.
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